Science Day at MoTTU

 On Saturday, November 5, we had a day of fun and exploration!

 In the Sculpture Court many tables were set up (–stations, really) so that our visitors could practice experiements, solve puzzles, and look at things in new and intresting ways. 

 Below we are happy to share some photographs of the day, and we thank  all of the families, and our volunteers, for making the day so fun.

 If you have any questions about the projects you see here, please contact  the Education Division at the Museum of Texas Tech  University,

"What is this and where does it go?"

We had kids of all ages join us for Science Day...

"Wow! Excellent job building that, uh...that tower-thing (what is it?)"

"Ah, yes...the old Exploding Lava Trick!"

Thanks to generous funding from the Helen Jones Foundation, the Education Division has been able to purchase many supplies, tools, and kits that can help our visitors learn and discover more about the world that we live in. People of all ages really enjoyed using several different kinds of connective sets of parts, allowing them to make crazy cars, DNA chains, imaginative reptiles, and more.

We planned lots of experiments that were fun, stinky, gross, etc….

    Our volunteers had fun and helped us have fun, too….

The microscope was VERY popular…

“Oh, wow, that is cool!!”

“How does it do that?!”

"Goggles on for safety!"

   “I don’t know where that part goes, hmm….”


"I made a bubble and can hold it in my hand!"

Tall or short, anyone can make bubbles!

Thank you for visiting. We hope that you can join us on December 3, Saturday,

from 1 – 4 for Holiday Workshop at the Museum.

You can make several holiday themed prizes, great for gifts or decorating for your winter holiday.

Everything is free and you get to keep and take home what you make!

(Santa and cookies will be there, too!)


Bizarre Prehistoric Beasts – Day 3

On our last day of camp we learned all about the crazy critters that lived in the Cenozoic Era.  This included things like bear-dogs, big-bad pigs, and sling-shot nosed rhinos!

We started with a 300 piece puzzle that was divided into envelops and given to the students in small increments… oh, and they weren’t allowed to see the picture on the box!  It was used to represent the challenges paleontologists face when piecing back together the geologic record.  You don’t always have all the pieces, and you don’t always know what the outcome will look like.

The first round of envelops is distributed

Teamwork was a vital part of completing the puzzle!

Working hard to complete the picture

Next, different picture cards of bizarre animals were given to each student, and they had to tell us some of the facts about that animal.

Carcharodon megalodon - a giant prehistoric shark

Students then removed their cast from the T. rex molds we made yesterday and started painting them to resemble real fossils…

Carefully painting the tooth cast

Some fossils were brown...

Painting with great concentration

Almost done...

For our final activity, students learned how to construct a field jacket–the giant plaster egg-like container that holds the fossil while in transport from the field to the lab.

Cleaning off real fossils!

Make sure you get all the dirt off

Next, toilet paper is applied with water to cover the fossil to act as a barrier between the plaster and bone.

Sticking the toilet paper to the bone

Covering all the exposed fossil with TP

The toilet paper is then covered with strips of burlap soaked in plaster. This will harden and protect the fossil from any bumps or bruises it may encounter along its journey back to the lab.

Covering the TP with plaster and burlap

Smoothing the surface of the field jacket

Applying the final strips of burlap

This camp was so much fun to teach, and hopefully students had fun learning all about the crazy creatures of Earth’s past! I hope to see many of these campers back for our other summer camps in July when we partner with the National Ranching Heritage Center next door!

Questions about Kids Programs at the Museum of TTU?
Contact the Education Division:

Bizarre Prehistoric Beasts – Day 2

Today at camp we learned all about creepy creatures of the Mesozoic Era, including dinosaurs, swimming and flying reptiles, and other amphibians and lizards that thrived at this time.

We started the afternoon with another mock dig site, this time of a Metoposaur–a giant salamander-like creature from the Triassic!

Measuring the length of the skeleton

How long is the body?

Measuring the disarticulated leg...

Next, we were fortunate enough to have the Assistant Curator of Paleontology, Bill Mueller, show us around the Fossil Prep lab at the Museum!

Bill showing us some Texas geology

Pointing out some current paleo. projects in the lab

Preparing fossils require extreme patience

The sandbox is a great space for holding fossils with wet glue

Which is the original, which is the cast?

An airscribe is used to remove rock from the fossil

Not all fossils are large, some are teeny, tiny!

We headed back to the classroom to review the Geologic Time Scale to learn about the Mesozoic Era.

Hmm... Helicoprion belongs in which Era?

Working together to put fossils with their correct time period

Then, it was important to learn the differences between true dinosaurs, swimming reptiles, and flying reptiles (Pterosaurs are NOT dinosaurs!)

Is this a true dinosaur?

Dinosaurs don't have flippers, either!

Next, we went to check out some dinosaur skeletons in the Changing World gallery. Which dinosaur do you think is the most bizarre?

What do you notice about the skull of Triceratops?

Can you see the chevrons?

Passing around the metoposaur interclavicle (cool!)

How is Chasmosaurus different than Triceratops?

Finally, we finished up by learning how fossil casts are made using molds and plaster. We mixed up our own plaster to pour into T. rex tooth molds!

Mixing the plaster in the water

Make sure you pour plaster into the water, not vice versa!

Carefully pouring the plaster

Once the plaster feels like pancake batter, that means it's ready to pour

Carefully filling the tooth molds...

We will let our T. rex teeth dry overnight and learn how to paint them to mimic real fossils!  We learned a lot about new dinosaurs, and even new non-dinosaurs, today, and we’ll unveil even more bizarre prehistoric creatures tomorrow!

CSI: Lubbock – Day 2

Our 2nd (and last) day of the CSI: Lubbock workshop was full of murder mystery fun.  We put all our previous days skills to the test by investigating a real-like crime scene!

We started by visiting the scene of the crime in the Old Assembly room at the Museum….

Marking the location of the crime

Caution: crime scene area

What happened here?

Table of evidence

How far is it from marker 6 to 7?

Photographing evidence

Outline of the body (and blood!)

Mapping the crime scene

Measuring the distance between pieces of evidence

Marking the evidence bags

Being an investigator even requires going through the trash...

Hm, any evidence in there?

Placing the evidence in its proper bag

Keep it contained...

Map of the crime scene

We then used fluorescent latent print powder to dust for fingerprints around the crime scene.

Looking for fingerprints on the door knob

Dusting the back of the chair

UV light reveals where prints were left behind!

Any prints on the garbage can?

Next, we headed back to the “Crime Lab” to prepare for a visit from our suspects. Students were asked to make a list of the questions they wanted to ask the 4 crime suspects.

What are you going to ask the suspects?

Do any of our suspects have alibis?

Working together to come up with some juicy questions

Where were you on the night of June 15?

Yesterday Brittany taught us how to use electromagnetic sheets to lift footprints from the ground that may be unseen by the naked eye. We returned to the scene of the crime to see if any were left behind.

Lifting footprints from the crime scene

Charging up the electromagnetic sheet

Do you see any footprints?

We returned to the Crime Lab to prepare for interrogation of our suspects…

Questioning Mike Wesley, suspect #1

Caroline McDonald, recently moved to Lubbock from Missouri...

Paige, suspect #3

Examining fabric fiber evidence

Is that cotton, nylon, or wool?

Using the methods for dusting for prints we learned yesterday, we opened our evidence bags and dusted the objects for any latent prints.

Dusting a piece of evidence for fingerprints

Dusting the murder weapon, the baseball bat, for prints

A drinking cup from the crime scene

Can you find the murderers prints?

Comparing the suspects' fingerprints to those found at the crime scene

Matching footprints from the suspects to those at the crime

Can you find the points of identification?

Matching up all the evidence

By piecing together all the evidence, the class was able to determine who was the murderer!

At the crime lab we learned that Caroline was the murderer!

We finished up the day by playing a game of Clue!

Ms. Scarlet, in the ballroom, with the knife?

Mr. Plum, in the kitchen, with the revolver?

We learned so many cool, new crime solving techniques at CSI camp! Fingerprinting, hand writing analysis, fabric fiber identification, footprint lifting, and solving a murder were all exciting aspects of this 2-day workshop! We hope all the kids had fun, and that some are now inspired to become forensic scientists 🙂

Questions about Kids Programs at the Museum of TTU?

Contact the Education Division:

CSI: Lubbock – Day 1

Today was the first day of our 2-day youth workshop all about forensics and crime scene investigation techniques.

We started the day by learning what fingerprints can tell us at a crime scene and how to read their unique patterns.

Making our fingerprints

Is your left hand different from your right?

Takes lots of practice to get them just right!

One print for each finger

Next, we headed outside to learn the proper methods for investigating a crime scene. It’s important to record and label all details when you first come across a potential crime scene.

Our crime scene

Recording measurements

Mapping the location of human remains

Back in our crime “lab”, Brittany taught us how to lift fingerprints from different surfaces using blue and red magnetic powder.

Learning how to lift fingerprints!

Another important part of solving crimes is using trace evidence from things like footprints. Brittany used biofoam to make an imprint of a student’s shoe.

Stepping in casting foam

Placing our objects with fingerprints in an evidence bag

Carefully dusting for prints...

Using magnetic powder to lift the prints

Working hard not to ruin the evidence

Using the blue magnetic powder

Carefully dusting the jar

Getting ready to place the evidence in the bag

Next, we learned that a common hardware item, WD-40, can be used to trace footprints at a crime scene. We headed outside to give everyone a chance to see what their footprint would look like once sprayed with the liquid, and then dusted for prints!

Spraying down shoes

WD-40, then step on paper to leave a print

Showing how wet paper can even be dusted for prints

We were then given a murder mystery to read and solve…

Working to solve a mystery

Who do you think did it?

We also learned how forensic scientists can remove footprints from areas that appear to be clean to the naked eye.

First you roll the electromagnetic sheet over the area

By using a flashlight, the dust particles left behind can be seen in the dark!

Smooth the paper to pick up particles left behind by the footprint

Do you see any prints?

To finish up the day, we did a mock blood spatter analysis. Students dropped “blood” at different angles on pieces of paper to see the different shapes made the drops.

Dropping blood from 18 inches about the surface

How did the blood spatter on your paper?

60 degree angle...

Ready to drop in 3, 2, 1...

How is 90 degrees different from 75?

Now let's try from 36 inches!

Tomorrow we will use all the skills we acquired today to help solve a murder mystery at the Museum!